Wenlock and Mandeville, the Olympic and Paralympic mascots, were unveiled last week. The one-eyed creations are said to have been created from the last drops of steel left over from the construction of the final support girder for the Olympic Stadium: A creative idea, not a money-saving one. It is little more than coincidence that the launch of the mascots came within a week of the announcement of spending cuts for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The mascots do not reflect the cuts.
Sir Terence Conran, a creative business ambassador for the UK told the Telegraph that he thought that the pair were “appalling” and “symbols of national mediocrity”. Branded products go on sale in July with the intention of generating around £15m of merchandising revenue.
Organisations funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are expected to be subject to at least a 3% budget decrease.
UK Sport are responsible for investing around £100 million of public funds each year in high performance sport. Sport England are responsible for investing in organisations’ and projects that will grow and sustain participation in grassroots sport. Both must apparently show spending cuts on the balance sheets by the end of March 2011.
The budget decrease will translate to savings of £1.8m for UK Sport and £4.254m for Sport England. A spokesman is reported in The Guardian as saying: “UK Sport runs a very cost –efficient operation already but we understand that everyone has to play their part and that we are not immune to the current financial situation…We will look to make these savings without compromising our direct support for the preparation of Britain’s elite sports and athletes during this crucial period in the build up to London 2012.”
The Olympic Delivery Authority, the organisation charged with constructing the venues, is confident that enforced annual savings of £27m can be “found by continuing to make efficiencies in the way the project is delivered as we have already done in the past” ODA chairman, John Armitt said.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I have been clear that all parts of DCMS’s areas would need to play their part in meeting the challenge of reducing the deficit. I have asked our bodies to make these savings while protecting frontline services wherever possible, and without interrupting the Olympic programme.”
Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: “The government remains 100% committed to delivering London 2012 on time and budget. However, given the economic position, no part of government can be immune. We have, therefore, agreed with the ODA that £27m of savings can be delivered without compromising the project.”